The East San Diego County cluster reports that a number of individuals and teaching teams have gained experience forging connections between neighbors:
Informal gatherings in the home to foster friendship and community building have been effective. The themes are many and varied. Members of one teaching team invited neighbors to a neighborhood dessert, a Race Unity Day barbecue, a World Cup Final potluck, and a financial workshop. One Bahá’í couple hosts neighborhood potluck evenings that take place four times a year; 25 to 30 neighbors participate, and one or two Bahá’í couples are invited to each potluck. Another team has begun gatherings that are spiritual conversations about mental health. At each meeting, readings from scriptures or a book are discussed. Service to others, such as prayers and visits to the sick, was mentioned as an important element of community building. The ______ teaching team has initiated seasonal (spring, summer, autumn, winter) neighborhood gatherings that have proved successful.
A neighbor of a Baha'i family in the ______ area sends a thank you card after attending a dinner at the home of the Baha'is and says, “I admire how you've moved into the neighborhood and met us all and have gotten us all talking.”
After a successful gathering in a ______ neighborhood with about 14 neighbors, the Bahá’ís of the neighborhood have already started planning follow-up visits to reinforce new relationships, dinners with families in smaller groups to get to know them better, and look for new ways of rendering service to their neighborhood.
Another ______ neighborhood just had their first gathering. Over 16 neighbors attended and got to know each other. One couple asked the host family about the Greatest Name above their door. The first step as planned by the host family was to get to know their neighbors, then comes building friendships and finding paths of service to enrich their lives.
After a successful first gathering last cycle in a ______ neighborhood, a Health and Healing devotional was held this cycle. At least one person from every household on the street attended the devotional with a total of nine neighbors and friends, and three Baha'is including the host family. Each person read a prayer or writing on the topic of Health and Healing. One of the neighbors commented later that perhaps we should have some discussion after each reading next time and said “...the energy was invigorating and joyous... brought the whole neighborhood together into a cohesive loving group”. The Baha'i hosts are planning to continue this devotional for their neighborhood and their next step is to have a mini Ruhi-style question and answer format for discussion to see if there is interest in starting a study circle.